This Is What Filipino Games Would Be Like in ‘Squid Game’

This Is What Filipino Childhood Games Would Be Like in ‘Squid Game’

Chasing, tagging, jumping, you'll do it all.

Squid Game has got us playing with our imaginations and thinking about what would happen if our own country’s childhood games were used in a deathmatch. In the Philippines, for instance, kids love to play out in the sun because the country has several outdoor childhood games that involve tagging, chasing, and jumping. Such activities could easily qualify as survival games if we just put a twisted side to them like what Squid Game director Hwang Dong-hyuk did with Korean games. 

So let’s explore that idea for a while, and imagine how Filipino games like langit-lupa and patintero could get you one step closer to a billion bucks… or your own grave!

Also read: 10 Fun and Easy Board Games That Can Be Played in Pairs

1. Langit-Lupa

filipino games

Image credit: Beth Macdonald

In English, this game translates to “Heaven-Earth.” The rules are simple. If you’re the “it,” you have to chase your friends around and tag them as the new “it.” But there’s a catch: You can’t tag them if they’re on an elevated area or platform, aka langit (heaven), and this could be anything: a stage, chair, tree, car, etc. The players can only be tagged if they’re running on the ground or lupa (earth).

The “it” is allowed to do a countdown (usually from 1 to 10) so the other players are forced to leave their elevated platform, run again, and transfer to a new elevated spot while shouting “Langit!” If they refuse to transfer, they can be disqualified. 

If Langit-Lupa were in a Filipino version of Squid Game, it would definitely be one of the first elimination games to quickly get rid of as many people as possible. The “it” wouldn’t be tagging another “it” per se, but he or she would be tagging the person to be shot until the game reaches its time limit. The players who manage to transfer to different langits untouched every time would proceed to the next round.

You might be wondering how the “it” is chosen. The kids select one by chanting a very morbid childhood song:

Langit, lupa, impyerno (Heaven, earth, inferno)

Im-im-impyerno! (In-in-inferno!)

Saksak puso tulo ang dugo (Stabbing the heart, the blood pours down)

Patay, buhay (Dead, alive)

Umalis ka na sa pwesto mo! (Leave your spot now!)

An arbitrator is chosen to point to all the players and move their hand to the beat of the song until it lands on the person to be marked safe from becoming the “it.” They repeat the song to apply the rule of cancellation until the “it” is selected. 

2. Luksong Tinik

filipino games

Image credit: rubyjane88

This is one of the few Filipino games best known for their increasing difficulty level after each round. The players are divided into groups of two. One group needs only two members to become the “it”; their job is to stack their hands and feet on top of each other forming “thorns.” On the other hand, players of the opposite team have to jump higher and higher each round. If any of their body parts or clothes connect with the hands and feet of the two “it,” they’re disqualified. The game aptly translates to “jumping over thorns.” It also has another variety called Luksong Baka.

If Luksong Tinik were made into a survival game, any player who makes contact with the “thorns” or stacked hands and feet would immediately be killed off. Don’t worry, there are only so many levels of difficulty that two sets of hands and feet can manage. But taller individuals would clearly have the advantage here. 

3. Patintero

Image credit: Avel Chuklanov

There’s no direct translation for Patintero, but the closest phrase would be “block the runner.” Players are divided into two equal groups; one group will be the blockers while the other will be the runners. The blockers position themselves inside an imaginary rectangle divided into horizontal lines that have equal distance between them. 

The blockers supposedly embody these lines with their arms stretched out at their sides, ready to tag the runners who have to get past each blocker. Each blocker can only run sideways to chase the runners, while the runners must not be tapped or touched by the blockers as they’re making a run towards the opposite end of the rectangle. Runners are disqualified if they’re tapped. 

In a deathmatch like Squid Game, Patintero would have a strict point system. It would be a best of two where the points rely on how many runners manage to escape the blockers. One point for the blockers if they manage to touch at least half of the runners; if they don’t, the point goes to the runners. The winning team would proceed to the next round while the other team gets killed off. 

4. Ice ice Water

Ice Ice Water is a classic Filipino chasing game where the “it” doesn’t actually change. Instead, they have to chase the runners and “freeze” them once they tap them. The runners can “unfreeze” their teammates by tapping them and saying “Water!” 

If this were a life and death game, the “it” would be a robot chasing everyone else around to “freeze” them. If none of the runners can “unfreeze” their teammate in the next minute, the frozen teammate would be annihilated. Everyone has to try to survive while avoiding the robot within 30 minutes. 

5. Tinikling

filipino games

Image credit: Austin Nikomedez

Okay, Tinikling isn’t exactly a kid’s game in the Philippines. But it’s the country’s national dance, which a lot of kids learn in school. The dance makes use of two bamboo poles where two dancers position their feet in between. Two other people are tasked to hold the bamboo poles on opposite sides and clap them against each other according to a folk rhythm. 

The dancers then have to hop to the beat of the clapping bamboo while avoiding them at the same time. As the dance progresses, the claps and the footwork must also speed up. If the dancers’ feet get caught, everything ends. 

Can you already imagine how Tinikling would be in a survival game? If this were Squid Game, the progressive pace of the clapping bamboo poles would almost be impossible to follow, consequently eliminating the players down to the last few. 

6. Sipa

In English, sipa literally means “kick.” This Filipino game is said to date back even before the Philippines’ Spanish era, so it holds a very special place in Philippine culture. The sipa here actually refers to the small ball that’s needed to play the game. It’s either made of rattan or cloth and plastic straws. The game is self-explanatory from there. 

You only need a minimum of two players to do this and the goal is to kick the ball upwards, using your foot or knee, as many times as you can without letting it hit the ground. Each time you’re able to toss it in the air is equivalent to a point. Your round ends if the ball finally hits the ground. 

You would basically have to outscore your opponent in a Sipa survival game if you wanted to live. It sounds simple but Sipa actually requires a lot of focus, core strength, and stamina. If this were the final stage in the set of Filipino games, do you think you could bring the money home?

Also read: 20 Kids-Friendly Activities in Singapore Based on Your Lil Ones’ Interests

If you’re Filipino, I’m sure your imagination is still flying with ideas on how Filipino childhood games would translate in a show like Squid Game. Who knows, a talented Filipino director might just have taken inspiration from the world-famous K-drama and is starting to write the script as we speak!

Featured image credit: JC Gellidon | Unsplash

About Author

Therese Sta. Maria
Therese Sta. Maria

Therese's close friends know that if they haven’t seen her around recently, then she’s probably having an adventure with her luggage and camera in hand. Though she loves staying at home and spending lazy afternoons with friends, there are times when she has to be "away from home to feel at home," — that’s when she’s bitten by the travel bug. See her travels on Instagram @reesstamaria.